West Virginia Preview

The site is the Orange Bowl, the main course is some Mountaineer meat and the appetite's been whet since feasting on the phrase "number four in the BCS" for a few days now.

The line is Miami giving 33 points. I just laid a few Benjamin's on the Canes. I couldn't resist. They've been mocked and laughed at all week. Number one rankings in the AP and ESPN polls have been called a farce. The schedule is weak. UM faces nobodies. The Noles are down this year. The BIG EAST is weaker than the WAC. Those are the rumors – the word on the street.

I can almost hear Canes everywhere saying, "Keep it coming. Keep fueling that fire."

The more negative chitchat and drama surrounding the University of Miami football team, the better. It keeps them honest. Always on their toes. Forced to defend themselves through actions – not words or rankings. Take care of business on the field on the weekends, practice hard all week and keep their mouths shut. It's a business. Playtime is over. Whenever the Canes take the field this season, they have to make a statement. Just winning is no longer an option. Miami must dominate.

West Virginia limps into the O.B. nursing a 2-4 record and a three game losing streak. Get ready to make it four. Thursday evening could get ugly. The Canes need to prove a point. What better place than in front of a national audience as the only college football match up that evening? What better time than now?

First year head coach Rich Rodriguez brings his Mountaineers south without the beefy offensive line they sported in 2000. Quarterback Brad Lewis returns for WVU as well as running back Avon Coburne, who missed last year's Miami beating due to injury. Even with these two veterans at the skill positions, the Mountaineers lack of an offensive line will have the Canes owning the battle in the trenches.

The WVU defense returns all but two starters from 2000's bunch. Although the Canes thumped the Mountaineers 47-10 last season, 21 of those points were scored by the Hurricane defense. Miami was held to 96 rushing yards last season in Morgantown though Ken Dorsey was near perfect with 291 yards and two touchdowns.

Last year's game was decided in the second half when two West Virginia turnovers were returned for touchdowns. Expect the Miami defense to come up with the big plays again this week. Florida State weekend was the coming out party as the Canes' D scored almost every way possible. A blocked punt, a fumble return for a touchdown as well as forcing four Chris Rix interceptions are a few memorable Miami "streak breaking" moments. This aggressive bunch is hungry for more.

Fear not, those wanting to see some flashy offensive firepower – the Canes will deliver. The ground attack will be as potent as ever. Whether it's Clinton Portis or Willis McGahee, Hurricane backs are going to wear down the Mountaineer defense opening up the "Ken Dorsey Air Show." Look for favorite target Andre Johnson and the up and coming Ethenic Sands to toy with WVU corners Richard Bryant or Lance Frazier all night long. With Daryl Jones nursing a twisted ankle, Kevin Beard will see some playing time as well. Lest not forget Mr. Shockey either.

The BCS reality check is going to backfire on everyone outside of Coral Gables. Just watch. This was exactly what the Canes needed to stay hungry.

As biased as it might sound, Miami is too good this year. They have cruised to a 5-0 record without even breaking a sweat. The starters can't even remember their last 60-minute game. Their five game season has been made up of three quarter scrimmages thus far. It'd be embarrassing if it weren't so damn frightening. Just imagine this Hurricane squad at full speed. Miami playing a penalty-free game. The defense sticking to fundamentals. Tacklers wrapping up opponents they way they've been taught. Receivers not dropping perfectly placed balls. Long snaps not getting bobbled. The offensive line actually playing like the best quintet in the country as opposed to just resting on their laurels and believe all the hype.

When the Canes are ready to gel and pull it all together, look out. They will be lethal. Unstoppable. Frightening. But to do so, they need to be pushed. Prodded. Called out. Laughed at. Doubted. It's been done. The gauntlet has been thrown down, they're #4 in the eyes of the college football world and #1 only to themselves. Miami needs to answer. Rest assured, they will. Someone will pay the price. Someone will get hurt. Things are about to get broken. Six roadblocks remain between the current 5-0 and New Year's in Pasadena. West Virginia is slowly approaching. The Canes are coming full speed. The collision is inevitable. Miami's on a mission. Lead, follow or get the hell out of their way.

Hated by many, loved by few, respected by all.

Miami 48 West Virginia 10

Born and raised in Miami, Chris Bello now lives in San Diego, CA and works as a freelance writer. Feel free to send your comments or to contact him for potential writing assignments at cbello@san.rr.com

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